Environmental Must-Reads – February 14, 2013


Water fouled with fracking chemicals spews near Windsor

State regulators say at least 84,000 gallons of water contaminated with oil and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing spilled from a broken well-head in a field about 4 miles north of Windsor.

A mechanical failure at about 9:30 a.m. Monday sent a smelly stream of steaming, greenish fluid onto soil and required fire trucks testing air every 30 minutes to ensure leaking natural gas was not about to explode and the use of a vacuum truck to try to suck up the liquid, state natural resources spokesman Todd Hartman said.

Workers stop fracking-fluid leak after 30 hours

Oil-laden fracking fluid gushed from an oil well near Fort Collins for nearly 30 hours before it was stopped Tuesday afternoon.

A hydraulic failure around 9:30 a.m. Monday caused a piece of equipment to fall onto a valve and break it at the drilling site 4 miles east of Fort Collins. A horizontal stream of green-tinted fluid flowed from the valve for nearly a day and half before crews gained control of it.

People Living Near Oil Well Leak Concerned About Impact To Water, Air

An oil well leak has been capped and crews have been cleaning up the green substance that has been oozing from the well north of Windsor but people living nearby are concerned about the impact to their water supply.

Ohio to Gov. Cuomo: We Are Not New York’s Dumping Ground

For the second time, Ohio communities sent a message to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In the letter, delivered today to Gov. Cuomo, citizens and communities across Ohio sent a clear message to the State of New York: Ohio does not want to serve as the dumping ground for New York’s toxic fracking waste. Governor Cuomo is expected to soon decide whether or not to open vast areas of New York to the process of High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) or fracking.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on fracking: Decision too important to rush

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday pushed back against the suggestion his administration is playing politics in further delaying a decision on hydraulic fracturing, saying the issue is “too important to make a mistake.

Lawmakers want tougher rules for fracking

State lawmakers are voicing doubts that the Brown administration’s proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing is tough enough to protect public health and safety — and they’re questioning whether the state’s oil regulators can be trusted to enforce it.

As detailed in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, state senators convened a joint legislative hearing to review draft regulations, which represent California’s first attempt to govern the controversial drilling process known as fracking.

Town board imposes gag order on residents concerned with fracking

Residents of Sanford, New York, were told they can no longer bring up issues related to fracking in town meetings

Water Use in Fracking Draws Legislature’s Attention

The drilling process known as “fracking” has opened up huge deposits of oil and gas in Texas and other parts of the county. It’s brought plenty of jobs – and profits – to the state. But it also requires something Texas has in short supply these days – water. Now the issue has caught the eye of the Texas legislature.

Beinecke to Congress: Protect The Public From Fracking

The head of the Natural Resources Defense Council appeared before a Senate committee looking into the implications of the nation’s shale gas revolution yesterday. Frances Beinecke issued a compelling appeal for tougher federal oversight of the oil and gas industry and its drilling practices that have raised widespread concerns about public health and safety.

Energy bill that would lift fracking moratorium advances

A bill lifting the state’s moratorium on fracking and requiring regulators to promote business opportunities for energy developers easily passed a state Senate committee Wednesday.

The legislation would provide a menu of sweeteners for energy companies to encourage developers to pick North Carolina for shale gas exploration over other states that have a history of energy exploration and known energy reserves.

NY Fracking Decision Delayed by Cuomo Administration, Too Early to Pop Champagne Bottles

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration – led by a potential 2016 Democratic Party nominee for president – has announced it won’t achieve the late-Feb. deadline it set on whether or not it would green light shale gas drilling, known by most as “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing).

This announcement fell a day after DeSmogBlog released what “fracktivists” have now dubbed the “New York Fracking Scandal” documents, also housed on NYFrackingScandal.com.

Olive Town Board bans fracking; Supervisor Berndt Leifeld says move largely symbolic

SHOKAN, N.Y. — The Olive Town Board has adopted a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas drilling method commonly known or fracking.

The ban, approved by the board on Tuesday, was embraced by the group Olive Defense Against Fracking.

DEP opens investigation of methane in Dimock water well

State environmental regulators are investigating high levels of methane in a Dimock Twp. water well in an area of the community still off-limits to some natural gas drilling operations because of a past methane incident.

The Department of Environmental Protection began the investigation last week after it received a complaint of turbid water in a private well and later found “high levels” of methane dissolved in the water and airborne gas accumulating in the well, spokeswoman Colleen Connolly said.

Pa. Communities Craft Creative Escape Hatch from Drilling Law

While the Pennsylvania Supreme Court continues to deliberate the constitutionality of restrictions to local, Marcellus Shale, zoning regulations in the state’s new drilling law, a handful of communities across the Commonwealth are trying a unique approach to keep the industry away. “Community Bill of Rights” ordinances have been adopted by cities as large as Pittsburgh to ban fracking, and as small as Highland Township, Elk County, to prevent an underground wastewater injection well.

BP feud with US government over Gulf oil spill heats up

BP is preparing for battle with the U.S. government as it steps up its efforts to defend itself against up to $21 billion in civil fines that it could face in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

In a filing in federal court in New Orleans on Wednesday, lawyers for the British oil giant argued that Justice Department attorneys made erroneous and misleading statements in a pending motion to approve a $1 billion civil settlement with Swiss drilling contractor Transocean.

Meeting will discuss oil spill fines plan

Locals can weigh in on plans to spend what could be billions of dollars in BP oil-spill fine money on coastal protection and restoration projects.

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council will host a meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Houma-Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd., Houma. That meeting will be the first of several in the Gulf Coast region aimed at gathering input on the council’s planned path forward for spending restoration dollars.

Judge to rule on Transocean’s plea deal over spill

A federal judge was expected to decide Thursday whether to approve Transocean Ltd.’s agreement with the Justice Department to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and pay $400 million in criminal penalties for its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil Dispersants Used During Gulf Spill Degrade Slowly In Cold Water

During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, clean up crews applied millions of liters of oil dispersants both at the ocean surface and in the deep sea. At the time, the public and some scientists worried about the environmental effects of the chemicals, in particular how long they would last in the deep sea. According to a new Environmental Protection Agency study, the key active ingredient in the dispersants degrades very rapidly under conditions similar to those found at the Gulf surface during the spill. Meanwhile, in the much colder temperatures found in the deep sea, the breakdown is quite slow (Environ. Sci. Technol., DOI: 10.1021/es303881h).

BP claims it now leads the way on safety

BP has put in place safety systems for offshore drilling that are ahead of any other company’s, the UK oil group has said as it prepares for the trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The company has set out for the first time details of how it has restructured its operations and invested in new technology in an attempt to show that the mistakes that led to the fatal explosion and huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will not be repeated.

Gov. Robert Bentley says he will work to make oil spill fine money available to fortify homes

Gov. Robert Bentley said today he would work to make money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fines available for people in Baldwin and Mobile counties to fortify their homes to make home insurance more affordable.

Cost of re-creating records destroyed by ex-DEP employee unknown

Re-creating the records destroyed by a former employee at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection will take hundreds of hours and the cost may never be known, a DEP spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Jon P. Andrews, 58, of Augusta, a former hazardous waste cleanup specialist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection admitted Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court to tossing out documents related to more than 250 oil spills to which he had responded or had been reported to him.

Keystone XL Explained

I admit it: For a long time, I didn’t get the Keystone XL pipeline. Where is it? What’s it for? It’s bad — why? Why are people so fired up about it?

So I did a little research. And then a little more. This is the result — consider it like a Dummy’s Guide to Keystone XL — all the things you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask.

48 Leaders Arrested in Historic Act of Civil Disobedience to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline

This morning, 48 environmental, civil rights and community leaders from across the country joined together for a historic display of civil disobedience at the White House where they demanded that President Obama deny the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and address the climate crisis.

NASA Climate Scientist Arrested in Pipeline Protest

Climate scientist James Hansen was arrested today outside the White House while protesting the proposed construction of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline.

Celebs, Enviros Arrested At White House Pipeline Protest

Celebrities and environmental activists, including lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and civil rights leader Julian Bond, were arrested Wednesday after tying themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

Sierra Club Chief Arrested at Keystone XL Pipeline Protest

For the first time in the Sierra Club’s 120-year history, its national leader has been arrested for civil disobedience.

Executive Director Michael Brune was one of several celebrity demonstrators arrested today in Washington, DC, when they tied themselves to a White House gate to protest a proposed pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands to the US for refining.

Fukushima disaster panel so far reports three young people have thyroid cancer

A Fukushima Prefectural Government panel said Wednesday that two people who were 18 or younger when the triple-meltdown crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic complex in March 2011 have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, bringing the total cases to three.

Questions raised over testing methods for thyroid gland doses in Fukushima

Researchers have announced safe radiation doses in thyroid glands for the vast majority of residents living around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. But their studies are based on estimates, assumptions and a calculation method that many experts have called into question.

Thwarted once, inspectors again seek truth about cause of Fukushima disaster

The Nuclear Regulation Authority is to inspect a building at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that may contain evidence proving whether it was the powerful tsunami or the earthquake that triggered reactor meltdowns.

The No. 1 reactor building houses isolation condensers, key safety devices which failed in the March 11, 2011, disaster. They should have withstood the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Nuclear reactor near NYC shut down after water pumps fail; no radiation release

A nuclear reactor in the New York suburbs has been shut down because two pumps that send water from a drain tank to the steam generators stopped working.

The plant’s owner said Wednesday the shutdown of Indian Point 2 went safely. They said there were no injuries and no release of radioactivity.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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